A trackable GPS “safety” device may soon be required in new vehicles, according to federal officials. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is debating installing vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices (V2V), which allow cars to talk to one another through GPS data.
Politicians would like to track American vehicles for a number of reasons, and the rationale that GPS trackers “will prevent accidents” is viewed by some opposers as convenient excuse. With GPS tracking installed, politicians could accomplish taxing drivers for every mile driven. Lawmakers could also use this sort of technology to pass laws allowing local governments to mail tickets to drivers for “recorded traffic violations” as they do now with red light cameras.
Privacy concerns are a big hurdle. There is fear that hackers could abuse this system to create accidents and wreck havoc on the roads. “How do you secure the data?” David Wise of the Government Accountability Office asked? The V2V would allow vehicles, and their occupants, to be easily trackable.
“Privacy is a real challenge,” Wise said.
The U.S. Senate did approve a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. However, the House promptly killed the proposal, since many rural lawmakers didn’t like the idea because they daily log lots of miles to get to work in a larger town.
Nevertheless, several states are determined to move forward—Oregon being the most eager. Currently 5,000 drivers in Oregon are participating in the country’s biggest experiment with GPS. Those drivers will soon pay the mileage fees instead of gas taxes to the state. Nevada, New York City and Illinois are looking into trying pilot programs next.
Road maintenance in America is currently funded by gas taxes, which are paid every time we fill up our gas tank at a fuel station. As cars become more fuel efficient, income from gas taxes is steadily decreasing. With the advancement of hybrid and electric cars, some feel that the the tax burden is landing unjustly on those with less fuel efficient vehicles. GPS tracking would enable states to tax per mile driven, not per gallon purchased.
The cost of this GPS technology will likely be absorbed into new vehicle production, which means consumers will pay for it. V2V may indeed help prevent accents in the future, but the true cost of this technology to Americans has yet to be seen.